After an angry, swearing late night meeting among top Democrats, Congress voted Friday to give itself another five days to try to complete a long-overdue omnibus spending bill that had become a growing embarrassment for party leaders and President Barack Obama.
Senate Democrats had abruptly pulled back Thursday night after finding themselves one vote short of the 60 needed to cut off debate. The action infuriated Speaker Nancy Pelosi so much that the California Democrat wanted to abandon the $409.6 billion measure and instead push through a stripped-down continuing resolution to keep the government operating through Sept. 30.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) and his deputy, Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D.-Ill.) were called to Pelosi’s office late Thursday night and ultimately prevailed in their argument that Democrats should try to salvage the bill, which includes critical spending increases for vital agencies. But the heated, sometimes profane, exchanges were described as “ugly” by Democrats on both sides of the Capitol. Staff, kicked out in the hall, could hear the yelling, and Pelosi herself seemed a little abashed the next day, joking that nothing her leadership could say to her now would match the night before.